Klopp clears up Paul Tierney controversy
The Liverpool manager came under fire for suggesting that referee Paul Tierney had some kind of grievance with the Reds after he had been booked in Sunday’s win over Spurs.
Jürgen Klopp was back in the hotseat on Tuesday, just two days after his Liverpool side sneaked a 4-3 win over Tottenham Hotspur. Sunday’s game at Anfield turned out to be a fraught one for the home fans and the Reds manager, who watched his side race to a three-goal lead within the first quarter of an hour, then very nearly throw it all away. As the final seconds ticked down, it looked as though Liverpool might have do make do with a point from a contest against one of their direct rivals in the battle for the last European berths - until Diogo Jota popped up to slot home the winner, just 90 seconds after Richarlison had pulled Spurs level. The Kop was ecstatic, as was Klopp, who turned and started to sprint towards line official John Brooks, only to give up on the idea after his hamstring gave way.
In his post-match briefing, Klopp tried as best he could to measure his words and avoid inadvertently giving any soundbites that might be twisted in the press, or at least read worse than they sounded in print. But he had to get some things off his chest, and after initially refusing to answer a question about the ref, he let loose: “I have to speak about it because you don’t talk about it. Paul Tierney, gave us, in a game, in a season which was quite important, he didn’t give Harry Kane a red card - and I love Harry Kane, what a player... today again, my God he’s pretty much unplayable. But that day, he didn’t get a red card - but Robbo got a red card. We drew 2-2, you might remember... It wasn’t the first time, there are so many things. I didn’t say a bad word to the fourth official, not at all - he wouldn’t have deserved it anyway because he didn’t do anything wrong. But I turned around to the fourth official, celebrated in that direction, and pulled my hamstring probably, so fair enough... I am already punished, and I got a yellow card on top of that. We have to ask Mr Tierney what is going on. I know what you want to make the story, I’ve said too much but I cannot help you out more with the story you write tomorrow”.
Klopp’s reaction to Jota’s winner and his accusations suggesting that Tierney has regularly shown biased in decisions that have gone against Liverpool didn’t go down well with ex-ref and former Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) general manager Keith Hackett, who wrote in his column for the Telegraph that the German coach was fortunate not to be shown a red card, “It’s high time the authorities brought Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp to book over his unacceptable touchline antics. He is becoming a serial offender. Klopp has every right to show passion - and indeed his complaint to Tierney was a valid one - but he must make his point within acceptable limits. Managers at a lower level will look at how Klopp behaved and think it’s okay to do the same”.
Three days on after the event, Klopp’s discontent has eased - and so has his tight hamstring (a Grade II). He apologised for his behaviour in today’s press conference as he looked ahead to tomorrow’s visit from Fulham. “The whole situation is... it shouldn’t have happened at all. It was out of emotion, it was out of anger in that moment. That’s why I celebrated the way I celebrated. There was a situation with a foul on Mo [Salah]. Free-kick, another free-kick and then the goal. Later we scored, which is usually a moment when I should just be happy, but unfortunately, I was still angry. I didn’t say anything wrong, I was shouting, ‘Without you, without you,’ - it didn’t make a lot of sense. I didn’t get close to the fourth official and I didn’t want to get close to him, then I felt my muscle...
“Then, we scored and Paul Tierney came over to me and I didn’t expect a red card to be honest. I know I had a red card not too long ago and I didn’t expect for a second a red card because I didn’t feel it was right. I expected a yellow card in that moment and he said to me, ‘For me, it’s a red card but because of him [Brooks, the fourth official], that’s what I understood, it was loud in the stadium, it’s yellow’. He showed me a yellow card and smiled to my face, that’s it. Red card for what? So that’s how I left. The game goes on, final whistle, we go inside. I tried to calm down, didn’t work out properly, go into all the interviews and I said what I said. The things that came out, about what Paul Tierney said to me, I didn’t say. You can look for yourself, but what I said what, ‘What he said to me was not okay’. I thought it was not okay because it wasn’t a red card in my view. And then the things happened, I understand, I opened the box... That’s when I stopped talking.
“The rest, about Paul Tierney whistling our games. I know he’s not doing it intentionally but we have a history and I cannot deny that. I am not a resentful person, not at all. I think it’s a waste of time. I have to get over so many things in my life and I get over them. The refs are really angry about what I said - I’ve heard I was lying and things like that, I never did. I did a lot of things that day but I didn’t lie. I shouldn’t have said a couple of things but that’s pretty much the situation. We won a football game 4-3, in a spectacular manner and the only headlines we get I created and I really regret that,” he concluded.
Liverpool head into Wednesday’s game after having leapfrogged Spurs and moved into fifth on 56 points. Visitors Fulham are safe from the drop in 10th but gave leaders Manchester City a good run for their money when they met at the weekend.